General Theme for the Jubilee Year:
“Alive to the Spirit of Fr. Claret: Remember, Rejoice, and Rejuvenate”
General Objective for the Monthly Recollections:
“Remembering the blessings of the Lord for the fifty Years, being grateful for the growth achieved through pioneers and contribution of all the members, we rejoice in the Claretian vocation and move forward with strength and renewed vigour to face the emerging frontiers after the example of Claret.”
Particular Theme for the month of March 2020:
Living Together – A Contrast Community
‘In a polarized society, where different cultures experience difficulty in living alongside one another, where the powerless encounter oppression, where inequality abounds, we are called to offer a concrete model of community which, by acknowledging the dignity of each person and sharing our respective gifts, makes it possible to live as brothers and sisters’ (Apostolic letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to all consecrated people on the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life). The religious are called to challenge the world with its counter cultural life-style. They are to be an antidote to the growing culture of individualism. But today, to be frank, shallow friendships and fragile relationships mark not only our society but also the Church. As a result the Church is losing her power to transform the world.
a) John 17:9-11:- I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.
b) Autobiography Numbers 606,607,608,609:- I owe God endless thanks for providing me such good companions… I had something to learn from all of them because they gave me such a good example in all virtues, especially humility, obedience, fervor, and a constant readiness to work. They gladly set themselves to do whatever I asked… Those who visited us couldn’t help noticing that our house was like a beehive, with every one coming and going at my request, and all of them quite content and happy… I often wondered how it was possible for so much peace, joy, and harmony to reign for so long a time among such a large group. I always ended up saying the same thing, "This is the finger of God.''
1. Jesus prays for his disciples that they may be one. It shows that a Christian community is a gift of prayer. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Ps 126:1). He stresses the point that we are of God –‘they are yours’. He prays for those who belong to him in a special way and not for those who are the lovers of the world. He does not expect us to come together as a community with worldly aims. It is said that there are many who live on the mountains and behave as if they were in the town, and they are wasting their time. Our entire perfection lies in the unity of the spirit – ‘that they may be one.’ The formation of a community is our first mission. What is more important – our community or our commitment? We can’t neglect the fact that a great many of the saints in the Church are those who devoted their lives to prayer. Jesus does not ask us to serve the Church at the expense of our soul. It must be possible to contrast a religious community with an NGO.
2. According to St Claret it is not I or You or We who make a community but God. A community is not a set of private rooms where people are interested only in their own welfare or their own vision. On the other hand, it is a place of togetherness in spite of differences, of people united in love and open to all other people. It is a place of belonging where each person can grow to become fully him. It is a belonging for becoming, a way of life that helps each person to grow to human fulfillment. Diversity is not a wall that prevents us from each other but a bridge to learn from each other. Jean Vanier writes: "In spite of all the trust we may have in each other, there are always words that wound, self-promoting attitudes, situations where susceptibilities clash. That is why living together implies a certain cross, a constant effort, and an acceptance which is daily and mutual forgiveness." To love then is to see in the other, the heart of the person hidden under all that annoys us. Living together makes our life ‘a sacred pilgrimage’ and it makes a contrast with the secular world.
3. Some of the present-day challenges to the living together are, -1) a tendency to middle-class stagnation, strangulated by comfort; 2) lack of understanding between the young and the old; 3) sexual problems; 4) too much accommodation with the consumerist ideals of the modern world, too many cars, expensive holidays etc.; 5) money and finance – the activities which have kept the religious congregations going have too often taken us away from our foundational ideas. Religious superiors have spent too much of their time thinking about fund-raising and management; 6) Sustainability – survival by hook or by crook - remains the most critical question. St Claret proffers a few antidotes to these challenges – a) to pray together and to have lunch and dinner together; b) to do annual retreat with all necessary care; c) to avoid exclusive friendship; and d) not to attend to anonymous accusations (Autobiography – Numbers. 610-613)
Points for Personal Reflection:-
It is worth reflecting on Pope Francis’s numbering of the diseases of the Roman Curia (2014 Address).
1. The disease of thinking we are “immortal”, “immune” or downright “indispensable”, neglecting the need for regular check-ups.
2. Another disease is the “Martha complex”, excessive busy-ness.
3. Then too there is the disease of mental and spiritual “petrification”.
4. The disease of excessive planning and of functionalism.
5. The disease of poor coordination.
6. There is also a “spiritual Alzheimer’s disease
7. The disease of rivalry and vainglory.
8. The disease of existential schizophrenia.
9. The disease of gossiping, grumbling and back-biting.
10. The disease of idolizing superiors.
11. The disease of indifference to others.
12. The disease of a lugubrious face. Those glum and dour persons who think that to be serious we have to put on a face of melancholy and severity, and treat others — especially those we consider our inferiors — with rigour, brusqueness and arrogance
13. The disease of hoarding.
14. The disease of closed circles, where belonging to a clique becomes more powerful than belonging to the Body and, in some circumstances, to Christ himself.
15. Lastly: the disease of worldly profit, of forms of self-exhibition.
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